Hello Everyone! Forget about brownie sundaes, forget about éclairs and chocolate cake; the real desserts, the sinfully sweet and decadent treats, can be found in one region: Southeast Asia. Ingredients in Southeast Asian treats are less traditional than the sweet flavours you typically see in Western desserts. Ingredients like cassava, mung beans, and lotus seeds paired with sticky sweet syrups like coconut cream, palm syrup, and condensed milk are common and no strangers to Cambodian treats. Beyond these ingredients you can also always expect to have at least one fresh fruit added to the mix. Look for favourites like mangoes, rambutan, durian and of course, bananas.
Just as Southeast Asian desserts, Cambodian treats are most frequently enjoyed mid-morning. Instead of being served to cap off a delicious meal, the treats are bought and enjoyed in markets as you are doing your shopping around town. Many of the most popular Khmer treats are sold from mobile street stands. Look out for the crowds of students outside universities and schools, flocked around a stand.
Traditional Cambodian treats, also known as Khmer sweets, also come in the form of custards and puddings; egg-based dishes that are spiced up with a variety of flavours (vanilla and cinnamon are typical favourites). Since rice remains a main staple in current day cuisine, being eaten as often as three times a day, rice-based cakes are also very popular.
Tonight, I will be sharing a Cambodian favoured treat that is simple and super easy to make at home. The best part? You’ll most likely have everything readily available to whip this up in your pantry. Num Treap, or in English, Sticky Rice with Sesame Seeds, is a treat that is basically as the name states, steamed sticky rice mixed in a warm coconut sauce. The mixture is then spread into a baking dish or pan, topped with sesame seeds, and then set aside to cool before cutting into squares and then served. You may serve it as it is, or with fruits on the side. Num in Cambodian means pastry, so it is essentially a sticky rice (bai damnaeb) pastry treat.
This dessert is very much similar to a sweet rice cake that we have here in the Philippines known as Biko. It is also made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and glutinous rice, that is topped with latik (coconut curds) instead of sesame seeds.
PREP TIME 60 MINS* | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | MAKES 9 SLICES
*Allow for an additional 6 hours (or more) to soak the glutinous rice before cooking.
- 1 cup sweet glutinous rice, soaked for at least 6 hours or overnight
- 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Rice: Drain the water (no need to shake off the excess water), and evenly arrange the soaked sticky rice in a steamer lined with a greased banana leaf.
- Cover and steam for 30-45 minutes. You can check the rice and increase the steaming time if need be. Once done, keep the rice in the steamer or covered to prevent it from drying out until you need to use it.
- Coconut Sauce: While the rice is cooking, add the coconut milk, coconut sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until it thickens, about 5 minutes.
- Num Treap: Fluff the cooked rice with a fork to separate the grains. With the heat off, add the rice to the saucepan with the coconut sauce and mix well.
- Spread the rice mixture into a shallow dish or baking pan, pressing them down with a spatula. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to set and cool for about an hour.
- Cut into squares, then serve and enjoy!
– Ally xx